MONKS living hundreds of years ago used herbs to drive away evil and protect them from the plague.

Now visitors to Mount Grace Priory, near Osmotherley, can see for themselves the kind of herbs the monks planted and what they would have been used for.

The herb garden at the 600-year-old monastery, which would have been used by Carthusian monks, has been given a major revamp, with many varieties planted.

The garden was recreated 11 years ago after lying fallow for centuries.

Once it would have provided the monks with everything from a cure for flatulence to foliage for masking unpleasant smells.

Head custodian Becki Wright said: "Herbs were incredibly important in medieval times and we know that many Carthusian monks were keen gardeners.

"While we cannot be sure exactly what was cultivated at Mount Grace, we do have a fair idea, and some of the varieties we have planted would certainly have been here.

"Carthusians were compelled to do manual labour, and many chose to cultivate their gardens. Some preferred to plant flowers or vegetables, rather than herbs.

"It was a way of getting closer to nature and a distraction from their painful solitude."

Hundreds of plants have been laid out according to their uses in religious rites, medicines and cooking.